10 Ways to Avoid Complications During Pregnancy

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Women who are pregnant deserve quality care and non-judgmental support throughout all three trimesters. They should also care for themselves mentally and physically to promote their and the baby’s health.

There are steps you can take to reduce the risk of pregnancy complications. Follow these steps and choose an experienced, qualified doctor you feel comfortable talking to and who talks openly with you. This can help you have a happier, healthier pregnancy.

1. Conduct Research to Find a Qualified Health Care Provider

Talk to friends, family, and your primary care doctor to help find the right OB-GYN, and follow up on their suggestions with your own research. You can use online ratings for doctors and look at any testimonials or reviews on their websites. You can also take advantage of state resources to help you choose.

Also, meet with prospective doctors to see if you are a good fit. Good communication in both directions is essential to the health of you and your baby, as you must rely on your doctor for advice and feel comfortable asking questions throughout your pregnancy. We believe it is important to feel comfortable with your physician and their staff.

2. Get Regular Prenatal Check-Ups

Regular prenatal check-ups are critical for the prevention of birth injury and other complications. Understanding what happens at prenatal checkups at each stage of your pregnancy helps prepare you for visits and ask the right questions of your doctor.

First Trimester Prenatal Check-Ups

Choose your doctor and schedule your first visit as soon as you find out you are pregnant. Your prenatal care in the first trimester starts with bloodwork, a Pap smear, and cultures to check for infections or other problems. Your doctor will ask questions about your overall health, family history, and risk factors.

You will also begin discussing proper diet and nutrition and potential problems such as fatigue, heartburn, varicose veins, morning sickness, and other common pregnancy symptoms. Knowing these symptoms and how often they should occur can help tell you when something seems wrong.

Second Trimester Prenatal Check-Ups

Your second-trimester prenatal care includes monthly prenatal appointments. Talk to your doctor again about your symptoms, including the onset of back or other pain.

Your doctor will weigh you, check your blood pressure, and measure your abdomen. You should talk to your doctor about any concerns you have about your health in case it can affect your baby.

About 20 weeks in, you’ll have an ultrasound, blood testing, and genetic testing. These help detect problems such as abnormalities or potential genetics-related health issues.

Third Trimester Prenatal Check-Ups

Your third-trimester prenatal care visits are generally every two weeks until your doctor recommends weekly visits. You will have continued blood pressure, weight, and other monitoring, plus a test for group B strep infection. Your doctor will also check your baby’s movement, and you can help by tracking them between visits.

Talk to your OB-GYN about your concerns if you feel you are not getting proper prenatal care. Babies of mothers who do not get good prenatal care are five times more likely to pass away and three times more likely to have a low birth weight. Regular prenatal care allows your doctor to intervene quickly when there are problems.

3. Follow Health Care Provider Nutrition, Weight Gain, and Exercise Recommendations

Your weight gain recommendations during pregnancy depend on your body weight and body mass index before pregnancy and whether you have one or multiple babies. Following recommendations is important because too little weight gain is associated with undersized babies, and too much weight gain can lead to heavy babies, delivery complications, and cesarean delivery.

Talk to your doctor about your caloric needs in each trimester to avoid a high-risk pregnancy. Typically, you don’t need extra calories in the first trimester, but you need about 340 additional in the second and about 450 in the third.

You should get about 30 minutes daily or 150 minutes a week of moderate exercise during pregnancy. Always talk to your doctor about your exercise routine, and be sure to stay well-hydrated and pay attention to how you feel.

4. Choose a Healthy Diet and Supplements Your Baby Needs

It is critical to protect you and your baby throughout your pregnancy by eating healthy. Limit sugar and solid fat intake and eat a diet high in vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.

Keep a food journal to help you track your intake, and share it with your doctor, who may make specific dietary suggestions as you advance in your pregnancy. For example, they might recommend more seafood with healthy fats but low in mercury. They will also warn you of certain foods, such as raw meat, fish or eggs, high-sodium foods, and raw sprouts.

Part of good nutrition during pregnancy involves taking prenatal vitamins and other supplements your doctor recommends. Prenatal supplements help you get critical vitamins, such as calcium, iron, iodine, and folic acid. Failure to take prenatal vitamins can result in neural tube defects, hypertension, preeclampsia, poor bone development, and other problems.

5. Avoid Certain Over-the-Counter Drugs

It can be challenging to sort out the advice you receive about over-the-counter medications, so listen to your doctor. There is often not enough research to come to clear conclusions because of the ethical concerns involved in experimentation with pregnant women and fetuses. However, there are some drugs with a significant amount of evidence about their chance for harm.

The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists warns against the use of the antihistamine pseudoephedrine during the first three months of pregnancy. The drug has been linked to a risk of abdominal wall congenital disabilities.

The FDA warns against using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, from about the 20th week of pregnancy. Using them can lead to low levels of amniotic fluid or kidney problems and other complications.

There is a lot of information and misinformation about using over-the-counter drugs during pregnancy. Avoid those with sufficient warnings, and talk to your doctor about others before you take them.

6. Get Gestational Diabetes Screening

Women who do not produce enough insulin when they are pregnant may develop gestational diabetes. It affects about two to 10 percent of pregnancies, and managing it is critical. Gestational diabetes can lead to increased blood pressure during pregnancy, a complicated or premature delivery, low blood sugar, and a risk of the baby developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Some of the risk factors for gestational diabetes include previous diabetes diagnoses during pregnancy, a previous birth over nine pounds, being overweight, and a family history of type 2 diabetes. Women with gestational diabetes don’t typically show any symptoms. You can try to prevent gestational diabetes before becoming pregnant by losing weight but don’t do so if you are already pregnant. Talk to your doctor about how much weight gain is enough but not too much to keep you and your baby healthy.

Your doctor should start testing you for the condition around the 24th week of pregnancy.

7. Manage Chronic Conditions

Some chronic conditions cause riskier pregnancies, and it’s critical that you properly monitor and manage them. Some maternal chronic conditions that cause high-risk pregnancies include the following: